I have been blessed with three extremely good travelers. But not last night.
Typically, on one of our frequent red eyes to Boston to visit my family, I rest across the aisle from my three little angels, who sit happily in a row, willing and able to go to sleep as soon as we “lift off”. But last night everyone decided they would instead stay up. My four year old was kicking the seat in front of him, demanding that his show come back on after JetBlue rudely interrupted his cartoon for its safety announcement. Meanwhile, my nine year old was crying because he wanted to stay up and read TinTin all night long. My daughter was trying to do some kind of craft covertly under her coat. And I, well I was sweating profusely, texting my husband, and trying to somehow stop the small talk the nice woman next to me wanted to make without seeming to notice that JayJay was hurling his headphones at me, calling me stupid mommy.
It was a charming scene. And then, as mysteriously as in the eye of a tornado, silence fell. The kids accepted their fate (and believed my repeated threat that if they did not sleep on the plane they would have to go to bed the minute they reached their grandfather’s house). JayJay’s cartoon came back on and, although I refused to return his headphones, he was happy to just look at the screen. Peace. Quiet. Three buckled children with nowhere to go.
And then, just as I began to stretch out, I heard it. “Excuse me, ma’am.” The fact that I was being addressed as ma’am by the twenty-something boy in the sleek black coat and dark denims was worrisome enough. But given he was sitting behind my kids, I knew there was more bad news in store. “Do you know your kid is watching Adult Swim?”
“Um, no,” I lied. “But it’s okay. He doesn’t have any headphones on and he is about to fall asleep.” The twenty-something gave me an incredulous look and went back to his iPad. I muttered another lie along the lines of “Oh look, he is already asleep” and then never turned around again.
The fact is, I knew JayJay had Adult Swim on. Cartoon Network is the only cartoon in town on JetBlue at 10 p.m. But frankly in this situation I just didn’t care. I wouldn’t let JayJay watch Adult Swim at home. But if Adult Swim was my ticket to a peaceful flight, screw it all, I am all in for Adult Swim.
As parents, we often do things that perhaps we never thought we would. We break the rules dictated to us by ourselves as younger, child-free observers and then as readers of horror-inducing parenting tomes like the “What To Expect” series (which are perhaps the only books in this world I truly believe should be burned).
Here are just a few of the transgressions that come to my jetlagged mind:
- Medicine Candy: Yes, we have seduced our children with the idea that there is such a thing as medicine candy. And that is why my nine year old now covets my gummy adult vitamins (moms like medicine candy too). What is perhaps the bigger sin is the fact that my husband and I recently had a huge laugh at the fact that we call it medicine candy.
- TV as a Babysitter: Yes, I have let my kids watch TV while I did conference calls. When I have been really tired or stressed out, I have let them watch TV during dinner. I grew up on TV dinners in front of the Brady Bunch, and I turned out OK. My kids probably would too, even if I did this every night. The problem is they eat so damn slow in front of the TV that it makes me lose my mind.
- iPads at Restaurants: Sometimes Mommy and Daddy need to talk for five minutes. But other than those five minutes, I will be disgusted by all who are using devices at the dinner table.
- Bribery: Sometimes I have found myself incenting my kids to do something by perhaps offering them a toy or cash in return. I prefer to look at this as capitalism in the making.
- Terrorizing young mothers at the park: I used to look in disgust as some barbaric five year old slithered his obscenely large body up the outside of the tunnel slide and then leapt to the ground. I will never have a child that does that, I would think. Nope. Instead I will have three.
So, if there is something you do that embarrasses you, some Mommy code you have broken recently, know we are all out there doing the same thing. It’s what makes us human and ultimately what probably makes our kids love us more. Being perfect is boring. It’s the messiness that happens inbetween that makes families stick together. So, throw the kids some Doritos once in a while. Just don’t do it where anyone else will see.